In the midst of rising tensions over a contentious road construction that have been made worse by UN peacekeeper intervention, the president of Turkey’s Cypriot community meets with a senior UN official.
In the midst of a dispute over a road construction, a senior UN official is visiting the island for three days and has been received by Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar.
Tatar and Miroslav Jenca, the UN assistant secretary-general for Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, had an hour-and-a-half long meeting at the presidential building on Monday in the country’s capital, Lefkosa.
The meeting was also attended by Ergun Olgun, the special representative of the Turkish Cypriot president, and Colin Stewart, commander of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
Jenca’s visit came after UN peacekeepers on August 18 intervened in road construction work to link the Turkish Cypriot village of Pile in the buffer zone with the rest of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Tatar said he informed Jenca that the “Pile-Yigitler road construction plan is a humanitarian project and was born out of necessity.”
Tatar told Jenca that UN peacekeepers’ move to prevent the construction of a “humanitarian” road connecting the Pile and Yigitler villages is “unacceptable.”
To quote the UN official, “We hope that there will be common ground in the future for the resumption of peace talks that benefit the entire people.”
Jenca, who will be in Cyprus from August 27 to 29, met separately with Nikos Christodoulides, the head of the Greek Cypriot Administration, early on Monday.
For locals, the road expansion is strategically significant because it will provide them with more options for getting to Pile, where Turks and Greeks coexist.
When the 11.6-kilometer construction and repair project is finished, Pile residents will be able to travel farther distances and won’t have to go through British bases when crossing to the Turkish side.
The village of Yigitler will be on the first 7.5 km of the road, and Pile will be on the second 4.1 km.
The Greek Cypriot administration and the UN, however, oppose to the project.